Thailand, Day 8


We left Ayutthaya this morning and were heading to Pattaya. After breakfast, Paul decided to stay downstairs. It seemed a little out of character for him. The elevator was old, small, and rickety. It would not go anywhere at all if the weight limit was exceeded. A big guy could almost feel a little trapped.

I don’t know how many times I tripped going into the bathrooms of our hotel rooms. The bathroom floors in most hotel rooms were lower than the regular room floors. If it was dark and you were trying to make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, chances are good that you might have to catch yourself from falling. In this hotel’s bathroom, the shower was built for someone 5 ft tall. Paul wondered how he was going to fit under it.

Paul found black marks on the wall near the outlets from sparks. “This whole place could burn down at any moment and we are on the top floor!” exclaimed Paul. Surprisingly, I didn’t worry all that much about anything, which is a big role reversal for Paul and I. I thought the hotel, although old, was charming. It was hot in the hallway when I was waiting for an elevator down. I noticed that the window nearby was wide open without a screen and took the picture above without falling.

The first stop of the morning was to a public grade school. In general, the kids in the public schools are poor. They don’t need to get a high school diploma and sometimes leave before reaching high school to work. The tour group we used has a foundation that helps support the public schools by covering extra expenses such as computers. We were encouraged to bring school supplies, but not to give the children money directly. After the anthem, flag raising, exercise time, and morning meditation a child would take our hand and bring us to their classroom. We read a story in English to them and they read to us in their language. It was a very moving experience.

Our tour guide said if someone is born poor that it is very hard to leave their station. If they get married, the man has to pay a dowry to his future bride’s family. Our guide had to pay $30,000 US dollars to marry his wife. A poor man cannot afford to marry a rich girl. A very attractive poor girl has a higher dowry than a poor girl that is plain. People rarely divorce, they marry the family.

After the school, we visited a gem factory. We went on a small tour ride then were taken past the workers making jewelry. Soon we entered the biggest jewelry store I’ve ever been in. I bought Paul a new wedding ring with a Topaz gem. He broke his first ring and lost his second. The third time’s the charm. Right?


We got into our hotel rooms in the late afternoon. Pattaya was not at all like I was expecting. It was a bigger city than I imagined it to be. We decided to sit by the pool for awhile. I ordered a drink that I thought would be like a bloody Mary. But it was more like unsalted tomato juice with vodka, very different.

That evening we were invited to go to a restaurant with another couple from the tour. They said that it was supposed to be the best in the city and it certainly was. If you are ever in Pattaya, you have to go to Bruno’s. Paul and I thought it was one of the top restaurants we’ve ever been to. The food was out of this world. The service was unbelievable. They even transported us to and from our hotel which was quite a drive through traffic.


Tomorrow we will be exploring Coral Island and Pattaya.

What to expect when you’re not expecting…

This weekend didn’t go the way I expected it would.

Arabella came home from school early on Friday sick. She had a fever all weekend and has one still. I ended up calling the doctor’s office Saturday night. By the time her Tylenol wore off in the evening, her temp was at 104.1. An hour after I gave her medicine, her temp was still rising and peaked at 104.5. The nurse said she probably has the flu. Thankfully, Paul and I got flu shots for our trip over a week ago. I am hoping that being coughed on, and taking care of a sick child in general, will have no effect on me.

The nurse told me that I should give Arabella a lukewarm bath. I prepared a bath for her and let her get in the tub herself. A 14 year old is too old to be bathed. I felt frustrated when I felt the water after she got out. The water that I added was too cold for her so she added hot water. Eventually her temperature decreased despite being in hot water. I finally felt like I could go to bed without worrying too much, but still got up during the night to check on her..

I am not surprised that Arabella got sick. She gets sick literally every time that she is planning on going somewhere, Paul and I are going away, or if we take a family vacation. This time she was planning on spending the weekend away on a church youth group trip.

My plans really didn’t change much because she was sick. I still blew off that party I wasn’t planning on going to. I finished my fall cleaning. I spent around 6 hours creating the perfect 2018 calendar of all my favorite photos and memories of 2017.

But that is not all that happened this past weekend. I noticed that Alex was acting a little strange. His patterns were off. I asked what his plans were with Baylee for Thanksgiving. He told me that they broke up. What??!??!? They were dating for almost a year and a half. They just went on the same college campus tour last week. I may have mentioned the word marriage last week. I even gave Baylee a fake name on my blog. We really liked her.

Alex seems to be doing well. So this holiday season, both Alex and Angel are single. It will make things a lot easier as far as holiday parties go. Last year they left our Thanksgiving party early to go to the family of their significant others. I could almost understand how the family of divorce feels. My kids shared how much fun they were having with the other family when I just wanted them to be home with me.

Then some other strange things happened. I found a permission slip on the table to join the math club. I automatically asked Arabella about her interest. She said that it wasn’t hers. What?? We both agreed that the Alex couldn’t be joining the math club. Could he??

Alex used to be the grade school math whiz. I had to ask his teachers for more challenging material. Then middle school hit and he barely passed math. The early high school years weren’t much better. My son fell into a rough crowd that was headed down a dark road until he met Baylee. Then he turned his life around, not without a few mistakes. His grades didn’t improve until this school year. Right now he has a B+ average up from a D average. He joined the chess club and now he is joining the math club. Wow! What??

Maybe he is finally growing up!

Then this past week I received a postcard in the mail from Arabella’s biology teacher. It read: Arabela *name misspelled* is putting little effort into biology class. With a bit more effort, she could be doing much, much better. Time management, writing down deadlines and studying outside of class will make all the difference in this class.

I felt rather irritated by the teacher’s form of communication. Seriously, a postcard?? Anyone could read that….her brother…For crying out loud, the postal carrier. Arabella is typically a high achiever. The postcard announced to everyone in bright colors that she was a slacker. How humiliating. She just told us a few days before that this teacher doesn’t like her. Should we be concerned? I wasn’t expecting this about her. She is getting a B in the class…so it must be frivolous??..Right?!??

Change is inevitable….what was I expecting??


Acting like everything is alright 

I am sorry things did not go according to your plan. When you asked me why God did this to you, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to fix things for you. I wanted to make you happy again. Instead I just listened. I asked when you would rather know, now or later. Maybe God has a better plan that we just can’t see right now.

You said that you were a great actress. You went to play practice with a smile on your face. Then you came home and cried. The odds weren’t in your favor this time. Out of the hundreds of talented kids that auditioned, you weren’t in the handful of those selected for the musical theater program at the college you will be attending. You cried even more when your brother told you that they didn’t know what they were missing. 

The truth is that your musical theater talents are lopsided. You are a phenomenal singer, great actress, and below average dancer. Even though you have the shape of a dancer, your body fails you. I am so sorry that you seem to have my lack of gracefulness. 

I was the little girl that they laughed at during the dance recital because I danced to a different beat then everyone else. I was the scrawny little kid that was always picked last on the team. I was the little girl that had to do extra credit to pass gym class. I had to write about sports because I couldn’t do them. While other kids could do flips and splits, I remained rigid, tight, and inflexible. Why do you think I am a runner? It requires grit, the only thing I have.

There is one gift that I am happy to have passed on to you, your voice. When you sing, people feel the emotions you are singing about. A happy song puts everyone in a good mood. A sad song can change the audiences laughter to tears in a few sweeping moments. When you auditioned for the vocal performance program, they complimented you on your voice and told you that they wanted you. I know that you will find a home there. 

I know it is hard right now. You have been eating, drinking, and sleeping musicals for so long. I am impressed with your optimism despite a few minor road blocks. 

It does not mean that you can never audition for musicals in the big cities. This is your journey now and I am excited to see where it takes you.

Autism’s sibling, journal 2, part 3

My mom said that Matt was a smart baby. He was speaking and knew the alphabet. Until he turned 2, that is. Then he quit talking altogether. Instead he screamed. He slept fitfully and had nightmares. For many early childhood years, Matt was nonverbal. Then something strange happened, he started talking.

Previous to the home bound years, my brothers and I attended the same grade school. I remember Matt being in the special ed room that was shared with the library. He spent a lot of time in the naughty box between the two rooms. He kicked and screamed in this box while the kids laughed when we went in for library. He also went out with us at recess. Some of the older girls mocked his bizarre movements and laughed at him. It made me very angry, but they were older and there was nothing I could do about it.

One day Matt told my mom that he didn’t like school. He said that the teacher was mean. He told us that she put him face down on the floor and sat on top of him. He said it was hard to breathe. The teacher also put him under her desk, then sat down squishing and trapping him inside. My mom asked me if this could possibly be true. By the time he could tell us what had happened, the teacher had already quit. The turnover was high and I am sure my brother didn’t help with that.

Matt was very hard to handle. He was so violent in the school setting that he had to be homeschooled for several years right around the time of puberty. We stayed at home 3 years, then Matt went back to school with me. My mom sent my youngest two brothers to two different schools. Some of the teachers at school gave my family a hard time for my autistic brother. They looked down upon us. Some of the kids weren’t much better. Like we wanted this? Or caused this?

When I came back to school my junior year, I was the first person in the school district to return to high school after homeschooling. They did not know what to do with me. They would not accept my transcripts from the accredited correspondence school. Some kids teased me by asking if I took off from school to have a baby.

After awhile Luke ended up going to high school with Matt. They graduated together. Mark graduated from a different school entirely. Matt took the short bus to school everyday. There was always a boy that would terrorize Matt on the bus. Sometimes he would get off of the bus with Matt and threaten to kill him. Mom was a little worried last summer that he would make good on his threat once he made parole for his violent criminal offenses.

After I graduated from high school, I came back to be Matt’s teacher’s aide. My best friend Shelly was his aide at school until she pressed criminal charges against Matt for assault when he pulled her hair. Matt was escorted out of the school in handcuffs. That was the end of Shelly’s employment and our friendship. The charges against Matt were dropped after his competency eval.

Then I was employed as Matt’s teacher’s aide for a short period of time. In the classroom, Matt had his own separate cubicle. Every time that I would try to get him to read or write he would grind his teeth and hit his head. Or sometimes he would hit me. He never did learn to read, write, or do basic math.


A storm is brewing

I feel the edginess right before the storm hits. The peacefulness and calm from my vacation is leaving slowly like a summertime tan. I feel the wind surround the emptiness inside of me, trying to find a void to fill with cold icy snow. The warmth and sunshine are gone now. Sorrow, darkness, and anger encapsulates me. I cry out to God, but He doesn’t seem to hear my prayers. I feel the tug of emotions trying to drown me in a river of despair. I am alone. I want to be alone. I don’t want to talk. I really don’t want to do anything.

It has been a hard start of the year. I miss my neighbor and friend that passed away a couple of weeks ago. Every time I look at her house, I think that she is still there. She will pull her car out of the driveway and wave at me. We were supposed to do something together next week. But guess what? I can’t go. I looked over the old messages that she sent me. My heart tells me that she is still alive. She just can’t come outside. My brain tells me to stop being such a fool. Stop pretending that things are fine.

Last summer my best friend moved to Florida. I had the opportunity to spend time with her while we were there on vacation. I didn’t realize how much I missed talking to her and seeing her. I miss her. I don’t feel like talking to anyone else. In 4 months, my oldest daughter will be leaving the house. I am excited for her to start the adult chapter in her life, but I am at such a loss. I started crying while she performed her solo and ensemble song for me. It bothered me that she sold her junior prom dress. It just seems so final.

Then yesterday we found out that my mother-in-law has stage 4 terminal lung cancer. They are giving her around 15 months to live. Wait a minute, I am not ready to deal with the loss of our parents yet. I have been having a hard time with this since I saw her last week. I have been feeling sad and angry. With all of the people that were praying for her and my friend that passed away, why didn’t God heal them? I don’t have any control. Why should I expect miracles? I feel helpless. Who can avoid death? It has given Paul time to say goodbye to his only parent. That has been good for him to spend time with her.

This morning my son got suspended from school. He got in a fight with someone in the hallway. It has been no secret that my son has been struggling with school for the last couple of months. He has been begging us to switch schools for a couple months now. Apparently a boy called him a faggot on facebook back in December and has been bullying him with some other kids. My son got in his face today. I suppose that it shouldn’t surprise me that the day after my son finds out that his grandma is dying that he confronts this other boy. Words were exchanged between my son and this boy. They were pushing and shoving each other in the hallway. Then I received a call from the school that my son was suspended for 3 days. He was trying to provoke the other kid that was picking on him. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we can finally resolve this issue head on.

We are expecting a snow storm today. We should be getting somewhere around 8 inches of snow with blowing winds. It just started to snow.

Wrestling with the school

My son Alex used to be involved in almost every sport offered in the area, but not anymore. He started wrestling when he was in kindergarten. He was competitive, aggressive, and not afraid to get hurt. To be completely honest with you, I loved being a wrestling mom. I even loved getting up early on a Saturday morning to sit for hours in a loud stinky gym for those few minutes of anxious excitement. Most of the moms didn’t like the sport very much because they were afraid that their children would end up hurt. Most of the kids would leave the meets bumped and bruised and at almost every tournament someone would leave the gym on a stretcher.

The sport required a high tolerance of boredom and anxiety. I have seen almost everything over the 8 years that I was a wrestling mom. I have seen kids puking into garbage cans and heading back to the mat. Or more common, kids with bloody noses. Little kids running off crying after losing a match. Siblings would sit bored for hours playing their video games. Babies cried. Parents would coach from the sidelines losing their voices like they spent the night at a bar. I have seen kids worry over a couple of extra ounces when they were trying to make weight sucking on Jolly Ranchers and spitting into water bottles. I never liked that part. I have seen parents escorted out of the building for fighting with refs over calls. Some kids would win, others would lose. Pictures at the podium. Pins for your hat. Then we would pack it all up and head back home until the next weekend.

Alex was a B+ wrestler. When he was in 6th grade, he tried to make it to state. Only the first and second place in the weight bracket would make it to state. If I remember right, there were 8 kids in the weight bracket and Alex took third. However, another district had only one child in the weight bracket so they called Alex up to state. For the next two weeks before state, Alex wrestled twice as much and twice as hard. On the drive to state, Alex fell asleep and woke up with a kink in his neck. He pinched a nerve or pulled a muscle. We tried everything we could think of but Alex could not hold his head upright without extreme pain. We watched his teammates wrestle while Alex had to forfeit every game. We were so angry. He worked so hard. It was such a fluke thing that he made it to state and then he couldn’t even wrestle. So we resolved to do everything possible to help get Alex back to state the following year.

Alex went to summer wrestling camps and we signed him up for very intense wrestling training 2 months before the wrestling season started. This involved an extra expense and 2 hours of driving every time he went. He was very motivated and worked hard. He became an A- wrestler. In school, he was second in his weight class under an A wrestler. With all of the extra training, he could beat the A wrestler 1 out of 3 times. This is where things went incredibly wrong for him. He took on the alpha. This is a boy whose dad was a wrestler that graduated from that same school.  He was friends with a lot of other boys whose dads were wrestlers that graduated from the small town school. He got a lot of the other kids to turn against my son. A couple other kids were getting bullied as well. Some of the boys were being pushed around and had their wrestling shoes thrown in the toilet.  We talked to the coach, but he didn’t do anything.  One day my husband couldn’t take it anymore. He took Alex with him to confront the boys that were bullying him and to talk to their parents. Things got better for awhile.

Then a few weeks before trying to make state, my son came down with the flu. He missed a week of school and when he came back he didn’t wrestle as good. He still tried hard but then hurt his neck again in the same place as before. He spent a week in a lot of pain. He never made it back to state and quit wrestling altogether. Even though we tried to help him become a better wrestler, in hindsight I am not sure it was worth it. Being better jostled the system that was in place, the hierarchy. Since then my son has been ostracized from the jock group, he quit all sports, his grades dropped, and he has a negative attitude about school. He hangs out with other kids that aren’t accepted. Kids that have been known to steal things, do drugs, and run away from home.

My son begs us to take him to another school which has been tempting since he has two really good friends that stay out of trouble in the neighboring school district.  But would that teach him that he can run away from his problems? That he doesn’t need to change negative things about himself in order to get along with people better? Or would it give him a better attitude about learning and opportunities to grow socially and academically?

We have a lot to think about before the next school year.

Snow tires

In our school district, we have a late bus that drops kids off at various locations after after school activities. The late bus has been a good experience, well except for that one time. What can I say? Snow tires!

When my son was in middle school, he took the late bus to the drop off spot after wrestling practice. One dark, cold, winter Friday night I went to pick him up and had a little adventure. I attempted to make a Y turn and slid on the ice into a snow bank. So here I was with the back end of my car hanging out sideways on the road. My headlights were buried in the snow and I was afraid that oncoming cars would not be able to see me. Yeah, right about that time I had the image in my mind of getting hit by the bus. I called my husband in freak out panic mode. He was in the middle of making supper and couldn’t get there right away. 

Right after I called home two men, that were strangers to me and each other, showed up and pushed my car out of the snow bank. I really appreciated their kindness. Immediately after that, my son showed up on the late bus. He got in the car and exclaimed that he forgot his homework and wrestling gear on the bus. Big problem because the wrestling meet was the next morning. So here I am trying to flag down a school bus in the dark. The first stop I tried to send my son to get his stuff but the driver didn’t see him and left. So here I am driving along side of the bus waving and honking trying not to hit kids wandering around in the dark. Finally my son got his things off the bus. 

In the meantime, my husband set aside supper to help get me out of the snow bank. Except, I was no longer there. He was getting really worried that perhaps by snow bank I meant ditch. Or something really bad happened, like the bus driving around with my car in its front grill. I tried calling him in the process, but he already left. Thankfully, we all made it home safely that night. This winter I will be sure to have good snow tires.  


I always thought that I was a really good judge of character. Don’t we all? I have heard people admit that they are selfish, lazy, unorganized, vain, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying to me that they are a bad judge of character. Why is that?  Do we want to see the best (or worst) in people despite contrary evidence? I have been struggling with this concept lately. I think most people are embarrassed to admit that they were wrong about someone’s character when their hearts were broken or money was stolen.

I met Jake a couple of years back when he still was a boy. The first time I saw him, he was walking his dog by our house. At the time, I thought maybe he would be a good friend for my son. One day I just happened to be looking out the window when Jake walked by. I just let my dog out and was looking towards the road when I saw Jake’s dog drag him over the meet my dog. In the process, Jake got clotheslined on our mailbox. The dog further dragged him into the ditch. Jake laid wounded on the grass with blood coming out of his neck. I freaked out. I sent my oldest daughter out to get him while I panicked. Eventually I bandaged up some of his wounds and gave him a warm washcloth to put on his scraped and bloody neck. I tracked down his muddy mutt and loaded them into my car to give them a ride home. Welcome to the neighborhood!

A few days later, Jake’s mom sent me a note thanking me for taking care of her son. I still have it which is remarkable because I throw everything out. Over the years, Jake and my son became very good friends. I always liked Jake. He was courteous, quiet, happy, friendly, and kind. He always thanked me when I gave him a ride to school. He was the kind of kid that I wanted my son to hang out with.

Then this summer, things changed. Jake grew into a troubled teen. He was no longer happy. He stopped thanking me for rides. He went to the gas station and stole a pack of cigarettes. His parents made him return them and apologize to the owners. He was grounded for over a month from everything. Then one cool rainy night, he ran away which I blogged about previously. He vanished for almost 48 hours, then went back to school like none of it ever happened. He was present, but not quite there.

A few days after Jake went back to school, his mom texted me with concern. She said that a teacher asked the students to draw a picture of what they were doing for the weekend. Jake drew a picture of himself alone in the corner of his room with his knees folded and his head down in despair.

Then a few weeks later, a note came home from school stating that a student talked about bringing a gun to school. Apparently, a boy had created a hit list with 6 names on it and stated that he was going to bring 7 bullets to school. It was Jake. Jake said that he didn’t mean it, but he was sent away for a couple of weeks for treatment.

Last week I saw Jake walking his dog when I went on a long run. I asked him how he was doing. He smiled and replied that he was doing good. I just have to wonder if his smile was sinister or sincere. I always liked Jake and thought he was a good person. I still want to believe that despite all of the contrary evidence. How could I be so wrong?? In my mind, he is still the sweet and caring boy that I first met years ago. Not the troubled teen that he has become. I have been having a really hard time with this. I feel unsettled, I want to trust him again but can’t. I feel thankful that the troubles with my teens are trivial in comparison. I worry about his family. I pray that Jake can find the friendly and happy boy he once was.

Modern parenting

I remember growing up in the 1980’s. As teenagers, our parents thought we were the worst of all generations before us. They did not understand our music, rock ‘n roll and hair bands. Talking about hair, they did not like the way we dressed. Our hair was too poofy our makeup too wild. We spent countless hours at the mall trying to be material girls. We wasted gobs of time trying to get to the next level in Pong, Space Invaders, and Frogger on our Atari’s. We traded in our records for a large boom box with a tape deck. We dubbed tapes off of other friends tapes off of other friends tapes instead of listening to what our parents listened to on the record player or radio in the living room. Kids were rebellious, times were changing, and parenthood was hard.

As a parent of teenagers, I look back and wish times were a little simpler. We have less control and no guidelines. How much computer time should we allow our teens to have? How do we enforce that? How do we implement parental controls when we need our teens to help set them up? How do we monitor what they are doing when they know more about computers than us? I think that this is probably one of the biggest generation technology parenting gaps that has ever been and probably will ever be. At least our children will know what to do with their children because they grew up with the internet. From experience they will know from their childhood all the things that we don’t know now.

How do we know what to do? How much computer time is too much? My teens now do their homework on their computers. Taking away their computers is like taking away their pencils and paper. Is it good for them to spend all the time that they can on computers so they are prepared to use them in future careers? It is extremely hard to be hypervigelent with our teens use of the Internet without sitting next to them the whole time they are on it. This also is hard when they are at the stage in life where they want to be independent more than anything. If we have no reason not to trust them should we treat them like they are untrustworthy??

I remember as a young child finding my dad’s girlie magazines and showing them to my friends. They were in our house. We don’t have that option of keeping it out of our house if we don’t want it there anymore. My oldest daughter was exposed to porn in middle school when our previous pastor’s daughter showed it to her on a computer in our own house. Who would have thought?

What about cell phones? Back in my day, we had to talk on a phone tethered by a cord on the wall. There was no privacy. Now teens can talk anywhere with complete privacy about anything they want. If they wanted to send or receive naked pictures of someone, it is a click away. Who would ever know?

Now as far as music goes, the options are limitless there as well. If I wanted to buy a parental advisory CD as a teen I would have to go to the music store and show them my id. Once again, anything can be downloaded or listened to and I wouldn’t even know. How do you become proactive in monitoring that?

What about school shootings and violence? Back in my time there were a few kids that would call in bomb threats when they wanted the day off. I assume that doesn’t happen all that much anymore with caller id. Instead there are school shootings. Do you know how scary it is to send your child off to school after something like that happens?? Yesterday I received a letter from the principal of my children’s high school stating that there was an incident where a student was talking about bringing a gun to school. The authorities were called into the school to investigate. So, I sit here and worry. Worry about the things I can’t control. I wonder if I am doing a good job as a parent. Is anyone really? I don’t know what the hell I am doing parenting the modern teen. Does anyone? We are dealing with issues that our experienced parents wouldn’t even be able to give us advice about. 

On the flip side, it is a great time to be a parent. We have webmd for every bump, scratch, and sniffle. There are online support groups for any parenting issue. There is countless free advice for practically any parenting problem from getting stains out of clothes, potty training, to extra math tutorials at the tips of our fingers. Maybe it would have helped my parents raise us when they had 4 teens in the house at the same time. My brother could’ve gotten diagnosed with autism earlier, maybe would have had early intervention therapy. My mom could’ve joined online support groups and wouldn’t have had to parent an autistic child totally alone finding out what worked through trial and error.  

Ah, these are the best of times and worst of times for parenting. I am doing the best I can. 

The dark unfeeling cardboard box

When I was a young child, I never really liked school a lot. Sure, there were some bad teachers, some good, and some everywhere in between. But it really wasn’t that. It was never that. It had more to do with Matt, my autistic brother. Being less than 2 years younger than me, I could never get away. The school really didn’t know what to do with Matt. He was the first autistic child to come through the school district. When he couldn’t function in a regular classroom, they cut the library in half to make it a special ed room.

For a long period of time, Matt was nonverbal. Oh, he did scream and cry but he did not talk. He was uncontrollable. His teacher at school set up a naughty box for him between the library and special ed room. Almost every time we had library, my brother was in the box screaming and flailing around. The box seemed high at the time because I was so little. When my class lined up to look at books, the kids could peer into the box. Most of the time the kids laughed and I hated them. I put my feelings in a big box that seemed even bigger than the box that Matt was in. Many times I would rather be trapped in that empty box devoid of feelings, life, and light than to face the pain of the real world.

For a long time I floated around in my own little world. How could I make friends with my classmates? How could I like the kids that called my brother a retard? I went deeper and deeper into that box. I stopped eating. I didn’t talk to anyone. I started failing my classes. The only thing that touched my heart was music. I had this focal point that I would always stare at so I didn’t start crying in that class. I was so lost. My mom was very concerned, she had the school counselor talk to me. She was a wonderful person who tried to help me make friends and talk about feelings.

My mom wasn’t in much better shape herself. Mother daughter outings with the extended family ended up with my mom sharing with the family how much she hated autism and all of the things that Matt did or didn’t do. The family just wanted relaxation and fun. They were uncomfortable that my mom was crying and needed their support. They stared at me all the time. When I was alone with family, they peppered me with questions about if my mom was ok and how was Matt. I didn’t feel like anyone cared about me. Most of the time they were just trying to help without being very helpful.

One day Matt started talking again. He told stories of how his teacher in the grade school was abusive towards him. She shoved him under her desk and sat down at her desk squeezing him in there. He also said that the teacher would place him face down on the floor and sit on him making it hard to breathe. My mom asked me if this could be true, she was very upset.

After everything that happened, my mom tried to keep my younger brothers sheltered from going to school with Matt. She sent my brothers to parochial schools and schools that were out of our district. I wonder if that had anything to do with me not responding well to being in school with Matt. Did I save my younger brothers some pain? I hope so.